aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The YouTube debate debacle
My sum up from PrezVid.com:
I am sorely disappointed.
CNN selected too many obvious, dutiful, silly questions.
Anderson Cooper didn’t pace the debate; he tried to trip the runners.
The videos were too tiny to be given justice.
The candidates’ videos were just commercials.
There were far too few issues.
There were too many candidates.
The candidates gave us the same answers they always give.
I have no doubt - no doubt - that we, the people, would have done a better job picking the questions than CNN did.
I have no doubt that we would have heard far more substance without CNN and TV cameras in this. This should have been a debate held online: candidates answering questions directly without the need for CNN, Anderson Cooper, or their questions.
We end with the usual horserace blather of the TV commentators.
A terribly wasted opportunity, this was.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Sicko contest: trip to a universal health care country
Sicko, now one of the top five grossing documentaries of all time, opens in 500 small town theaters tomorrow. Not so small as my small town, but I’m expecting it will be in Macon. So I’m going to see it again. And planning a caravan of folks to go with me.
Maybe one of them will win the contest:
[T]o show my thanks to all of you who’ll go see “Sicko” this weekend, I’m going to send one of you and a guest on a free weekend to the universal health care country of your choice! That’s right. You’ll get to pick one of the three industrialized countries featured in the movie where, if you get sick, you get help for free, no matter who you are. All you have to do is send us your ticket stub (make sure it says “Sicko” on it and has the name of the theater and this weekend’s date on it—Friday, Saturday or Sunday - July 20th, 21st, 22nd). Attach the stub to a piece of paper with your name, address, phone number and email and send it to: ‘Sicko’ Night in America, 888c 8th Avenue, Suite 443, New York, NY 10019. (Yes, you have to use that old 18th century device called the U.S. Postal Service, and it has to be postmarked on or by Tuesday, July 24th). First prize is a weekend in the city of your choice: Paris, London or Toronto. This includes airfare, hotel, meals and, most exciting, a representative from their fine universal health care system who will give you a personal tour so you can see how they treat their fellow citizens. You’ll meet people who pay nothing for college and citizens who are in the fourth week of their six-week paid vacation. Oh, and you’ll have time to see the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or whatever they have in Toronto that is old and tall. (If you don’t have a passport, we’ll pay for that, too!)
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Mo[o]re on Gupta
Media Matters followed up on the July 10 claim by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Larry King Live that Vanderbilt University was the “only affiliation” of Paul Keckley, the expert Gupta had quoted criticizing the national health care systems of France, Canada, and Cuba during his July 9 CNN Sicko “fact check:”
Gupta asserted: “We checked it, Michael. We checked his conflict of interest. We do ask those questions.” In fact, in Gupta's original report—which King excerpted during his show—the caption identified Keckley not as affiliated “with Vanderbilt University,” but rather as a “Deloitte Healthcare Expert.” Indeed, in addition to serving on the faculty of Vanderbilt University, Keckley is the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. [...]
Contrary to Gupta's assertion on Larry King Live that Keckley's “only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University,” Keckley is affiliated with Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, part of a global audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services group of firms. Keckley is the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions states on its website that “it delivers research on and develops solutions to some of our nation's most pressing health care and public health related challenges.” As Moore noted on Larry King Live, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is also “connected” to Tommy Thompson. The center's website lists Thompson as the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions' independent chairman.
Keckley is also a Republican contributor, as Moore claimed. According OpenSecrets.org, Keckley has donated $8,500 to Republican candidates or party committees since 1990, including $1,000 to Sen. Bob Corker (TN), $2,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee, $2,000 to Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), and $500 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN). During that period, he has made no donations to Democratic candidates or party committees that have been reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Moore's assertion that Keckley “has done business with Blue Cross, with Aventis, with these other groups,” is also accurate. According to Keckley's curriculum vitae, posted on Vanderbilt's website, from 1998 to 2002 Keckley served as chief executive officer of EBM Solutions Inc., which licensed software applications to “32 healthcare organizations in 2002 including Health Net of California, Blue Cross of Tennessee, Aventis and others.” Keckley's curriculum vitae also lists him as a member of the Aventis Health Outcomes Measurement Committee. Further, Keckley's biography on the website of the Vanderbilt Center for Evidence-Based Medicine notes that he is “a frequent keynote speaker for national healthcare organizations including the AMA House of Delegates, National Quality Forum, The Medical Group Management Association, Disease Management Association, Blue Cross Association, American Association of Health Plans and others.”
Here’s the King clip with Moore and Gupta. Here’s part 1 and part 2 of the Blitzer/Moore interview. Here Gupta admits an error, an error this email exchange between Moore’s team and Gupta’s producer, shows that Gupta and CNN had the facts before the Gupta piece first aired.
RELATED - Dean Baker calls Gupta on his economics acumen in a Medicare piece:
CNN’s health care analyst is now telling people that Medicare is going bankrupt. What does this mean? Medicare’s costs are projected to exceed its revenue and drain the surplus from its trust fund in a bit over a decade, but this has been true at several points in the past. Did Congress tell tens of millions of beneficiaries to get lost? No, Congress appropriated the money needed to keep the program going.
Comments PGL at Angry Bear, “If Dr. Gupta wants to play a neurosurgeon on TV - fine. But let’s stop pretending he’s an expert on everything that is health related.”
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Gupta and Moore
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta took a step in the right direction by admitting to errors in the CNN hit piece on Michael Moore’s SiCKO on Larry King last night (Video courtesy of Scarce). The good doctor even praised the film saying it ‘raised awareness of an important issue.’
But herein lays a puzzle: Sanjay Gupta is a media super-star on America’s premier cable news network. We know he is both courageous and not easily politically intimidated. His reporting from Iraq and New Orleans demonstrated that. He’s tackled many aspects of healthcare and science on his regular program, House Call is one of the best CNN has to offer in my view. So one has to wonder: If non-doctor, film-maker Michael Moore can raise awareness of what Gupta agrees is an important issue, doesn’t it make sense that the best known medical doctor/journalist in America could too?
Moore received thousands of healthcare horror stories in a matter of days simply by posting a brief request on a single, dinky website. What might Sanjay Gupta uncover with the might of CNN behind him and years of experience in the field, if he tried something similar? How much heat could a regular segment on his weekly show highlighting abhorrent practices, intentional abuse, and open fraud in the managed care industry put on these scum bags? How many slimy rocks could a guy like Gupta flip over?
[I]n principle, I have absolutely no problem with journalists fact checking people like Michael Moore, as long as they do it accurately. The thing is that the four minute fact-checking video you can see embedded in this clip is exactly the sort of effort we should see on CNN after every one of the president’s major speeches and it should have been this way since the beginning. I realize that newsmen and pundits think they won’t be taken seriously if they don’t give Michael Moore’s work a second look. So great. Give it a second look. And then give similar scrutiny to The Path to 9/11 and the State of the Union. And maybe then the media’s credibility ratings will outstrip, say, those of the president whose statements they never verify.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Give it to us raw
Interesting observations from the head of interactivity at the BBC:
Video embedded into stories, he added, was proving to be popular with audiences in early experiments, as they tended to dispense with the traditional news format, instead just showing the footage necessary to enhance the text story sitting beneath the embedded player.
To assist this process, he added, a new on-demand editor had been appointed to source footage more suited to complementing web stories.
“The results from the trial we did with embedded video were hugely positive in terms of the conversion rate of people reading the stories and watching the video,” Mr Clifton told the conference.
“With the embedded video, up to 40 per cent of people were watching it. In its normal format, when you watch it in a different place [in a standalone player], it’s about two per cent.
“How you present it will really transform this [popularity of web video]; broadband is a huge factor, but another one is the type of video that we put up.
“What irritates the hell out of people is if they click a story which says ‘Britain buys 100 new tanks for the war in Afghanistan’ they then click on the video and it’s just a bloke standing in Whitehall saying ‘they’re going to buy 100 new tanks for the war in Afghanistan’. The viewer could say ‘you’ve wasted my time’.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Limbaugh to 13-yr-old: Liberals are hiding in the shadows
Think Progress tells us that on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Tuesday, a 13 year old caller said he was forced to read “liberal magazines like Time and Newsweek” in school which explained the globe was getting warmer. He said he was skeptical of the science because “my parents have always been skeptical of it.” Limbaugh replied:
RUSH: Patrick, this will be a good lesson. There are liberals everywhere. You may think that just because your town is conservative — there are liberals. They’re hiding in the shadows, and they are lurking there, and they’re around and the odds are that many of them are in the school system. You’ll probably at some point probably have to watch [Al Gore’s movie], unless your parents and other parents find out about it and demand, “If you’re going to show this movie, you better show the Great Global Warming Swindle and put the other side to our kids out there.” Well, congratulations. I’m glad you called and told us this. This is the kind of thing that gives us all encouragement for the future. Here you are at 13, already aware of when you’re watching propaganda. That’s great.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Sicko’s clean bill of health
Home in Georgia, Sicko’s not playing anywhere near me despite adding 200 more theaters today. Maybe it will open Friday in Macon; I’ll be taking groups from my town.
Expect to read a lot about it here; we certainly can’t count on the mainstream media - which is busy now atoning for its earlier honest hoorays for the film. A case in point, CNN sent a “team” to investigate the film’s claims:
We found that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts we spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film. [...]
Moore says that the U.S. spends more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country.
Again, that’s true. The United States spends more than 15 percent of its GDP on health care—no other nation even comes close to that number. France spends about 11 percent, and Canadians spend 10 percent.
Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world’s best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care’s paid for.
So he’s got his facts right but he should have put in other stuff. Well, golly, maybe CNN should make a film about healthcare?
RELATED: Facing South has the stats that show how the South has a higher percentage of uninsured residents than the nation as a whole and says that SiCKO demonstrates a better way that need not bankrupt us.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
YouTube 10% of Internet traffic
And you thought YouTube was big before: A new report (PDF) by Ellacoya Networks shows that the Google-owned video site comprises a monster ten percent of all traffic on the Internet. Thanks to the video boom - HTTP traffic outpaced peer to peer traffic for the first time in four years. Granted, video is a bandwidth hog and takes a bigger chunk of the pipe than your average web page - but that is still an astounding number.
And here’s a report that says the number of people who create user generated content will more than double from 118m in 2006 to 238m in 2011.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Evan & Sicko
Evan Almighty, Hollywood’s $200 million pander at the Christian market in which a faithless and stupid congressman turns into a reluctant ark builder and comes to believe in God only because God hammers him over the head with miracles, was a weekend box office disappointment.
The star instead? Fox says (!) it was Sicko, ”a smash hit:”
The documentary about the health care industry was sold out at all its “sneak” screenings in 43 locations around the country including Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta, and Detroit.
In New York, at the AMC Lincoln Square, where “Sicko” began an exclusive run on Friday, Moore’s funny and quite sad look at how Americans might benefit from universal health care sold out its entire run. The total box office at the theater was over $70,000 - possibly a record for an exclusive showing. [...]
On Friday night, Moore and one of his producers attended the 7:45 p.m. Lincoln Square screening, unobtrusively and out of sight of the audience. When the show ended, a standing ovation ensued, with cheering that culminated in Moore ultimately revealing he was there. The situation got so out of hand that the fire marshall came in to clear the theater.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The NCAA’s ransome
Whose first amendment is it anyway???
The NYTimes today reports on the newspaper blogger evicted from a baseball press box for blogging about a game while it was in progress. The paper is considering suing. The NCAA claims:
“Reporters covering our championships may blog about the atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action. Any reference to game action in a blog or other type of coverage could result in revocation of credentials.”
Rich Gordon, an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University and a director of its new media journalism program, said that “this is just the latest skirmish in a longer-term war” that will get more contentious.
“The law, as happens in many cases, has not kept up with the technology,” Gordon said. “As a journalist, you’re inclined to wave the First Amendment flag. This is going to get messier before it gets figured out. The media trends are at odds with the leagues’ goal of controlling distribution and extracting a ransom.”
Big Media had bought and paid for those free speech rights, so competitors can’t have it! You and me? Free? Speech? Huh? We’re not even in the picture!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Transplanted Media Reality
Over the weekend I read in passing of the Dutch Big Organ Donor Show reality series. The ratings grabbing gimmick was that the winner would get a life-saving kidney; the shock turned out to be that the show was a purposeful hoax. The purpose? To get the policy changed in Holland from an opt-in organ donor program to an opt-out program (which is something of the norm in Europe).
I didn’t see it so I can’t say. But listening to the Chairman of BNN Networks, Laurens Drillrich, describe his idea and how they did it to commemorate a colleague who died of a kidney-related disease, I was persuaded of the legitimacy of the tactic. If you still have any doubt, consider this observation:
We had a very clear message, which was about organ donorship. Our message was not let’s try and see how far reality television has gone, because to a large extent we as BNN also contributed to that. We’re not hypocrites. We’re not going to complain about that.
It does say something about ways that you have to find to try to attract attention. It’s very clear that if we would have done a documentary about the three contestants - the three contestants were real kidney patients and they are on the waiting list - if we would have made a documentary with these three people to show their lives and to show their suffering, we would have had an audience of maybe 60,000 or 70,000 people and we would have had one or two small articles in a newspaper.
Now people talked about this show and about organ donorship constantly for a full week, and we had a 1.7 million rating, which is extremely high in Holland. So in that way, it does say something - that if you want to get your message across, very traditional things do not work any more.
Does anyone doubt that’s true? Thus, given the media landscape we all must live in, the idea was brilliantly effective.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Free Paris Hilton!
What does it say of us that in Paris Hilton’s release and subsequent reincarceration we have one of those rare occasions where popular American sentiment lines up with Al Sharpton:
“She’s a pawn in a turf fight right now,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles. “It backfired against her because she’s a celebrity. She got a harsher sentence because she was a celebrity. And then when her lawyer found a way out of jail, there was too much public attention for it to sit well with the court.”
The struggle between the judge and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, incited indignation far beyond the attention normally paid to a minor criminal matter.
Judicial and police officials here said they were inundated with calls from outraged residents and curious news media outlets from around the country and beyond. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, decried Ms. Hilton’s release as an example of “double standards,” saying consideration was given to a pampered rich girl that would never have been accorded an average inmate.
In fact, her sentence was harsher than average because of her fame and at the time of her “early” release she had already served the average. Mary Fulginiti Friday morning on GMA:
Due to the overcrowding in the LA County jail system here in Los Angeles, defendants, especially nonviolent defendants, are serving approximately 10% of their time. So she was sentenced to 45 days. She served approximately what, between, I guess, anywhere between three and five days, arguably. And that would be consistent with what’s happening here in Los Angeles. [...]
So Paris Hilton, although you may not like her, although - you may - she may be easy to want to make an example out of, at the end of the day, she’s a nonviolent offender who hasn’t, who doesn’t have a significant criminal history, with a potential medical issue. And if there’s anyone that probably deserves under the overcrowding aspect in the system here to be released early, it will be someone similar to her.
I am no fan of Retributive Justice (the thinking man’s vengeance); I do not understand why we target our resentment towards her and not the system that created her. I can imagine that there could be some reason other than entitlement and privilege that precipitated her run in with the law. Finally, I do have empathy for what it must be like for her to be in LA County jail.
I’ve been making my way through the archive of the WNYC Radio Lab series and just recently finished the episode on morality. Wholly fascinating, in the section looking at the development of morality in children it notes the absence of empathy in young kids, and that the development of empathy is fundamental to the development of morality. I would say that today our culture has an absence of empathy and is, as a consequence, less moral.
But I don’t blame us for it. I blame our systems, most particularly in this instance the market-driven media system. A different media structure might be reporting the real story here - the one mentioned in that GMA piece but by happenstance rather than design - that the jails are full. We are locking up more people than any nation in the world (Russia is #3, Cuba #7) and do you feel safer for it?
A consequence is the sad fact that there’s no more room in our jails. What’s happening in California today will be happening in Georgia tomorrow and in your state the day after:
In the last five years, the Sheriff’s Department has released more than 200,000 inmates early, including some who ended up committing murders and other serious crimes when they otherwise would have been behind bars.
The releases were possible because of a nearly 20-year-old federal court order allowing the Los Angeles County sheriff to alleviate overcrowding by letting county offenders go home early.
We have to abandon our Retributive Justice, find some empathy, and move towards a moral system of Restorative Justice. I’d rather make that appeal on empathetic, humanitarian grounds, but ultimately it looks like it may come down to an economic reality: we’re not willing to pay the kind of money it costs to keep locking up all those people.
And if, as a consequence, all the Paris Hilton’s of the world are set free, I won’t feel the need to go home and hide behind locked doors.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The phrase “Citizen Journalist” should go
Steve Boriss at The Future of News says it’s time we name ourselves:
“Citizen journalist” implies that the truly legitimate position is “journalist” with the adjective “citizen” used as a qualifier to diminish status, as in Vice President, Lieutenant Colonel, or Assistant Professor. Come to think of it, “Citizen journalist” sounds like a phrase invented by a mainstream journalist — one who clings to the belief that, in the future, journalists will still hold the same, lofty status they enjoy today, but just with the additional burden of using, taming, and managing a swarm of pesky news “wanna-bees.” Maybe it’s time for news bloggers to take responsibility for naming their own specialty — ideally one that would distinguish them from social bloggers on one hand and mainstream journalists on the other.
Boriss hit that nail right on the head! My suggestion, keep it simple: “News Bloggers” is a good start.
Via Martin Stabe.
TANGENTIALLY RELATED: A podcast by any other name would be much sweeter.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
10 obvious things about the future of newspapers…
... that they need to get through their heads:
1. It’s not Google’s fault. Get over it, professor. Blaming search engines is like blaming the library. “Oh no, please don’t let readers actually find stories from my newspaper and then click through to my site to read them, anything but that!” Forget it.
2. It’s not Craig’s fault. Newspaper classifieds suck and they have for years. Either develop simple database applications with photos and maps to let your users actually find what they’re looking for, or partner with a good third-party vertical who can. Anything less is a waste of your time.
3. Your major metro newspaper could probably use some staff cuts. If you’re not writing about local news, your paper’s readers are probably getting what you do from somewhere else. Get over it. CNN and ESPN are not new, and nytimes.com wasn’t far behind. Write local. There are plenty of cooks and painters and poets in your neighborhood. Go out and meet them.
4. It’s time to stop handwringing and start training. If your editors are still writing navelgazers about the cataclysmic changes in the business instead of starting training programs to teach some new tricks to you and that guy in the cubicle next door, that’s a problem. Stop whining and move on.
5. You don’t get to charge people for archives and you certainly don’t want to charge people for daily news content. Pulling your copy behind walls where it can’t be seen by readers on the wider Web. Search rules. Don’t hide from it.
Via Martin Stabe.
Friday, June 01, 2007
John Powers on Cannes & Sicko
[I]t’s about...two young college age women arranging to get an abortion in the Romania of 1987 when abortion was illegal. And it sounds so dreary, and the combination of illegal abortion and communist Romania is enough to scare off almost anybody. But the story proceeds like a combination of social drama, horror film and thriller, and as you follow these two women--in particular, the friend of the woman getting the abortion--the action is unbelievably exciting and incredibly revealing about what it was like in the days when people actually had to go to fly-by-night people to get abortions.
Powers called the whole festival a “triumph of women” in what is traditionally a boys’ club, “a huge number of the most important films of the festival were women-dominated.” He also noted the impact of four actresses as judges. “These actresses brought up the best list I’ve ever seen.”
Sicko, he said, was Micheal Moore’s best movie ever, but Moore himsef “wasn’t as big a deal this time.” And he didn’t like the Cuba bit. He gets the point - that the Cuban health care system is actually fairer and, in some ways, better than the American health care system - but says the sequence tips into propaganda:
POWERS: It’s just that, you know, he takes a very funny idea, which is to say, here are some people who were injured during 9/11, who were cleaning up after 9/11 and they can’t get care. The first thing he does is he says, `I’m going to take them to the Guantanamo prison, because in fact the health care system for the al-Qaeda suspects is better.’
POWERS: And he tries--ok? And he very wittily tries to get them in so they can get the same health care as the al-Qaeda suspects, which is a very clever thing to do. But they--you know, the government won’t let them in, so they go to Cuba, and that’s when he starts talking about the Cuban health care system, and what seems to be a reasonable point at first, you know, it just gets sentimental and has, as I say, too many grinning Cubans and it seems a little too beatific. You know, politically, I think it’s a mistake because it will allow his enemies to say, `He’s idealizing Cuba,’ and in fact, that’s only a very small part of the movie. I think almost anybody who has health care would be interested in this movie because it really is extraordinarily touching and scary, because the whole point is: No matter how much you think you have, the health care system can get you.
I take his point; Moore’s enemies have already taken advantage of the Cuba sequence. Unless, of course, it was all part of the publicity game.
CBS and Last.fm
Om Malik wonders why CBS bought Last.fm:
I have been in touch with some folks who know the media business quite well, and they believe that amongst other things Last.fm could be CBS’s hedge for its terrestrial radio operations. CBS, thanks to the Tiffany Network, is widely viewed as a television company. Many overlook the fact that it owns 144 radio stations in 50 markets, a business that brought in about $397 million in revenues in the first quarter of 2007, and an operating income of $156 million.
However, radio sales saw a decline of 9% (maybe because CBS sold off 39 radio stations) and operating income declined 4% when compared to the first quarter 2006. The terrestrial radio business has been feeling the heat, losing the attention battle to iPods and the Internet based music services.
The situation isn’t going to get any better, as music continues to be available everywhere. A whole generation is growing up and turning a deaf ear to the traditional radio. Last.fm, however, is moving in the opposite direction - growing, mostly because of its social features.
It is a community of like-minded (or same taste) music lovers that continues to grow. To distort a clichÃƒÂ©, let a billion radio stations boom. CBS could start making money with the obvious business of selling music, but the real thrill would be if CBS takes this (to use another clichÃƒÂ©) wisdom of crowds, and turned it into a tool for programming its on-the-air play lists. (Rags outlined this theme in his post, Can social tools save plain ole radio?) (Also, Internet is the Deejay.)
If people-curated news sites like Digg can find traction, why not a people-powered radio. A Last.fm Top 20? If Les Moonves and his able lieutenant Quincy Smith play their cards right, Last.fm could become the underpinning for CBS Radio sometime in the future.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Backwards Old World thinking
Douglas McLennan, editor, ArtsJournal.com, calls that backwards Old World thinking:
Google? So now Google is what’s doing in newspapers? This is exactly the kind of backwards Old World thinking that is killing newspapers. There are many reasons newspapers are having a tough go these days (unsustainable profit margin expectations among them). But two things are clear - the appetite for news is only growing. And the news industry is in a transition to digital delivery, and figuring out a business model that makes that work should be the highest priority.
And yet, look at the digital operations of most newspapers. While they say they’re working on it, their investment has been far behind the curve, and virtually every meaningful innovation in the digital delivery of news and building of usership has been made outside the newspaper industry. Most newspaper websites are dull, confusing and difficult to read, violating long-established principles of reader usability. At a time when social networking sites are showing how to build massive loyal communities, news organizations’ interactivity is rudimentary at best. Companies like Google have raised digital advertising to an art, making it easy for advertisers to find the customers they want. Where have newspapers been? Asleep, while Craigslist and a host of other competitors have eaten their lunch. [...]
If I was pointing fingers, I’d aim squarely at the business managers who are so locked into the old ways of doing things that they don’t even understand what the new issues are, let alone solutions to them. Journalists are being failed by those whose job it is to figure out the business side, and now journalists are paying the price for that lack of vision. Like somehow cheapening the product and giving readers less is going to attract more customers.
To speak directly to the rant about Google: Google is an infrastructure, potentially the best friend any content producer has at the moment. Google sends floods of traffic around the internet in search of content its users want, presented in ways they can use it. Newspapers have always been about finding a readership and advertisers who want to reach those readers. There shouldn’t be a conflict here. Google is a reality. Any news organization that wants to make it in the new digital world better find a way to work with companies like Google and the next YouTube rather than thinking about “class-action suits.” Jeesh!
Via Jeff Jarvis.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
More of Gore’s press critique
He was at the 92nd Street Y Friday:
“Actually, the public forum is now crowded with triviality, banality, commercial messages and exploitive strategies for gluing people’s attentions to the screens in order to sell them things. And what is pushed out, even from the major network news casts is a serious discussion of what is at stake. What the invasion of Iraq had in common with the climate process is that in both cases is that there was voluminous evidence well available, well understood in sufficient quantities to convince any reasonable person that the decision that is appropriate and correct is the complete opposite of the decision that was in fact made.”
“When reason is drawn, is pulled out of the public sphere, it creates a vacuum. And what rushes in is ideology, and extreme partisanship and fundamentalism and extreme nationalism and people who assert they have a direct pipeline to the almighty who has this particular policy to this particular party and that is blasphemy and American herecy.”
Friday, May 25, 2007
60% believe God created the world in 6 days
ABC News headlines its breathless coverage of the creationism museum - “designed by the same man behind some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida” - with presumably new poll results:
According to an ABC News poll, 60 percent of Americans believe God created the world in six days. In Petersburg, Ky. this weekend, a creation museum is opening that depicts a story far from what you may have learned in science class.
Exhibits at almost every natural history museum teach that dinosaurs are millions of years old and that they died out long before human beings existed, but at the creation museum, they say God created dinosaurs and humans at the same time.
The ABC News report includes some balance - “Mainstream scientists worry that because this museum is so sophisticated it will be more effective at giving children a distorted view of science.” - but no real articulation of the scientific facts. Say, for example:
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.
No, what ABC gives us is a media thrill ride, a fluff piece that advertises a theme park as credible (if questionable) science tied to a nugget of news (the poll).
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Blow the whistle on the the HMO and pharmaceutical industries
Michael Moore sent out a letter today on his way back from the Sicko premiere in Cannes. A canny marketer he:
At my festival press conference, the only negative word came from the Canadians. Two critics didn’t like all the nice things I said about their health care system. Yes, Canadian health care has its flaws, but when I asked the two critics if they would exchange their health care cards for mine, they said “No!” Of course they wouldn’t. Canadians live longer than we do and their infant mortality is not as high as ours. Their system is underfunded because their leaders have been trying to push for more American-style health care.
The rest of the week has been good and I am now on my way back to the U.S. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration, in addition to going after me for filming scenes in or near Cuba, may now go after the 9/11 rescue workers I took with me to get the medical care they were denied by our own government. I couldn’t make up irony like this if I wanted to, and I will do whatever is necessary to defend the human right of these true American heroes to receive the medical attention they deserve.
We’ve also received word that the HMO and pharmaceutical industries are gearing up to fight “Sicko.” We received so many great whistleblower letters while we were making the movie from employees of these companies. We’d like to hear from you again! Send us the internal memos and any other plans you run across at the company copying machine or internet server. It will help to stay ahead of whatever they are up to, and it will also give us a chance for a bit of fun at the industry’s expense.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Gore gathers raves in latest media lap
Word is Apple is discontinuing the 17” iMac. Would that we could all have a set up like Gore’s (above via Time). Al was back talking sense - the media is strangling democracy - on GMA this morning; Think Progress has lowlights from yesterday’s interview. Radar remembers when Gore was a different kind of hot.
Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient TruthÃ¢â‚¬Â� showed a more accessible Al Gore - at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming - this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history.
Howard Kurtz says Gore’s getting hot:
Al Gore, non-candidate for president of the United States, is suddenly drawing such warm coverage that you wonder whether climate change is melting the hearts of journalists who once portrayed him as a cold fish.
E.J. Dione finds him free to be Al Gore:
Gore, to his credit, won’t talk about Florida, but I will. Whatever flaws he has, Gore suffered through an extreme injustice with great dignity. His revenge is to have been right about a lot of things: right about the power of the Internet, right about global warming and right about Iraq.
LATER: Media Matters points out that Kurtz failed to mention his own Gore turnabout.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
It was indeed another gorgeous, summery morning on the French Riviera, but the real heat was indoors. There wasn’t a single empty seat inside the Grand Théâtre Lumière—which holds more than 2,000 people—for “Sicko,” and dozens of stragglers were locked out on the sidewalk. Moore’s screed against the outrageous state of American healthcare was received with uproarious affection, but one might argue that Cannes provided the softest possible crowd. An American left-wing populist, attacking America’s profit-motive, private-sector ideology before a roomful of international intellectuals, at least half of them Europeans. May I introduce a new phrase into the Franglais dictionary? C’était un slam-dunk.
“Sicko” does not display Moore at his most cinematically inventive or imaginative. It presents a TV-documentary-style parade of episodes, characters and settings, bouncing from various American cities to Canada, Britain, France and Cuba (and yes, don’t worry, we’ll get to that). Moore plays a far smaller personal role in this film, appearing only occasionally in his comic-relief role as the clueless buffoon who can’t seem to grasp that healthcare in all those other countries is free, or virtually so. When he’s eating dinner with a group of Americans living in Paris who begin to list all the things they can have as free or nearly free entitlements—not just healthcare but an emergency doctor who makes house calls; not just childcare but a part-time in-home nanny—Moore puts his hands over his ears and begins singing “La la la la la.” (If you have kids or any kind of chronic family health problems, your reactions might include weeping in despair, slitting your wrists or booking a one-way ticket.) [...]
Much of this is played as comedy; Moore corners a young Afro-British couple with a wiggling bundle in the hallway of a London hospital and says cheerfully, “So—how much they charge you for that baby?” But Moore is trying to push us beyond the universally shared idea that something must be done to the slightly more controversial idea that something has been done, and that all we have to do is appropriate it. Americans have of course been conditioned for generations to believe that socialized medicine is first of all a disaster in its own terms, and secondly, the pathway to totalitarianism.
His portrayal of the Canadian, British and French systems is undoubtedly simplistic , and several Canadian reporters took that up with him at the press conference—although all of them admitted they wouldn’t trade their system for ours. But Moore’s overall point is, I think, inarguable: Flawed as they may be, those systems are a hell of a lot more humane and civilized than anything we’ve got. (Life expectancy is significantly higher, and infant mortality lower, in all of those countries than the United States. Whatever outdated stereotypes you may hold, these days poor people in Britain are statistically healthier than rich people in America.)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Matthews slams Kingston: “a dishonest comparison”
Chris Matthews slams Georgia GOP Rep. Jack Kingston on tonight’s Hardball:
Matthews: Will the people of Georgia support ten more years of American involvement, military involvement in Iraq?
Kingston: Well, people know we’re still in Germany and in South Korea…
Matthews: Yea, but..no no no no no. I won’t let you get away with that. That’s not a fair comparison. We do not have a war in South Korea. There’s no German that’s fired on an American since 1945. That’s not a fair comparison...That is not an acceptable argument! These comparisons to previous eras...it’s lazy thinking, Congressman. It’s the kind of propaganda that does not help this country understand the situation. You stepped into a dishonest comparison. Some people come on this show over and over again saying things that-JUST-aren’t-true.
REMEMBER ALSO: Kingston’s anti-poverty plan - get married & work more.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The cost of this war
Bill Moyers, back and good as ever, pulls no punches.
CBS no arrogant media company
A year ago, CBS launched its broadband channel called Innertube. Now the network has an honest admission: Innertube is not drawing an audience. So the company plans to pursue a “drastically revised strategy” that involves syndicating its video all over the place instead of trying to draw people into its own site. “It represents a stark departure for the TV industry,” writes Brooks Barnes in the WSJ. “Most of CBS’s major competitors, including Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal and News Corp.’s Fox, are to some degree all betting that they can build their own internet video portals.” In the coming days, CBS plans to announce syndication deals with Facebook and Last.fm to add to Joost, AOL, TV.com and Bebo, among others. “We can’t expect consumers to come to us,” says Quincy Smith, the president of CBS Interactive. “It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.” How’s that for a quote? (WSJ sub. req.)
In other CBS news, today the NYTimes looks at Katie’s ratings flop, Is It the Woman Thing, or Is It Katie Couric? The conclusions are that the format they used at launch was awful and the answer they’ve opted for now is “network news veteran Rick Kaplan” and “some hard-news discipline.”
Says one producer, anonymously, “That show doesn’t fit her personality.”
Agreed. And I agree the original format was a dud. Thing is, the nightly news format is dead. CBS should abandon it and do something else. Create a new format, as suggested way, way back when Katie was just a CBS rumor:
Former ABC News producer Paul Friedman’s advice to CBS News execs: Summarize the news of the day in five minutes or so; spend a big chunk of time-10 minutes or so-on covering one really good story; and give people even more to think about by ending with opinion.